Organization Helps At-Risk Youths Find A Way Out of Gangs
By Roger Mari
HONOLULU (KHNL) - Gang violence is noticeably increasing at public high schools and now, the group "Adult Friends for Youth" is trying to do something about the problem.
As a gang member in the 1980's, Malakai Maumalanga knows first hand the consequences of joining a gang.
"I ended up in prison for a drive by shooting, those days were real hectic, violence wasn't an option, it was a way of life," said A.F.Y.member Malakai Maumalanga.
Now a member of A.F.Y., Malakai understands that leaving a gang is not simple, members often face retribution. A.F.Y. focuses on groups, not individuals.
"We try to change the whole group as a whole, so they don't have to feel the pressure of, he's trying to do good, his friends are doing bad, and move the group towards a positive."
A.F.Y. held a rally at the state capitol, and spoke to lawmakers about getting back funds that were taken away from the program that has helped so many.
"A new life is better for us today, and leading us to a new future and a good life," said A.F.Y. member Telesia Taotofi.
It's never too late to make a change, and "Adult Friends for Youths" will be there every step of the way.
"I was like 24 or 25 and still gang banging but the agency never gave up on me, and that opportunity helped me to change my life," said Maumalanga.
Through the A.F.Y. program, many have gone on to higher education, received scholarships and are finding good jobs.
According to A.F.Y. some of the warning signs parents should look out for are, their children's friends, their attire, and changes in their attitudes toward school and authority.